Regional Reviews: New Jersey
Twisty Murder in Green Meadows at Bickford Theatre
The setting is the new home of Tom and Joan Devereaux in the recently fully sold real estate home development of Green Meadows. Tom is the builder-architect who built the development. On a Sunday morning in May, Jeff and Carolyn Symons arrive at their door unexpectedly with a bottle of champagne in hand to welcome the Devereauxes. They themselves moved into their new home down the road only a couple of weeks ago. Jeff is a financial consultant. The Devereauxes have no children. The Symonses have two young children and caring for them while maintaining a high level job in publishing has led Carolyn to a breakdown. This has caused her to quit her job. The two couples hit it off from the beginning and become fast friends.
However, when the Symonses aren't present, Tom turns very dark, threatening and elliptical while talking to Joan. Something mysterious involving the disappearance of an acquaintance at an earlier development of Tom's where they had last lived. When Joan seduces a reluctant Jeff, the wheels for revealing the past and triggering new dangers are set in motion.
Repeatedly, the audience watches behavior which turns out not to be what it is being made to appear to be. Even when you are certain trickery is afoot, you will not always be able to suss out what is "actually" occurring. You are most likely to be caught by surprise at those moments when you do think that trickery is not in the air. Still, it is a good rule of thumb here to suspect twists from here on in. It will also be useful to remember that this is a genre in which logic and believability are not strong suits.
Jonathan Holtzman (Tom) expertly dials up the menace and perversity with a skilled hand. Peter Kendall is sympathetic and likeable as a Jeff who is too innocent and simple to avoid the deadly trap to which he is being led.
Langley Brandon nicely sustains the enigmatic note in her portrayal of Joan in order to keep us guessing about her true nature. Elizabeth Simmons deftly performs the more straight forward, less interesting role of Carolyn.
The inviting set has been designed by Bill Motyka. Director Duncan M. Rogers sure-handedly directs the physical action to maximize whatever jolts and surprises Murder in Green Meadows provides.
Nothing is as it seems in this extremely twisty mystery play featuring murder, perversity and mayhem in two acts and ten scenes.
Murder in Green Meadows continues performances (Evenings: Thursday (2/7) 7:30 pm; Friday - Saturday 8 pm/ Mats. Thursday, Saturday & Sunday 2 pm) through February 17, 2013, at the Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown, New Jersey 07960, Box Office: 973-971-3706; online: www.bickfordtheatre.org.
Murder in Green Meadows by Douglas Post; directed by Duncan M. Rogers